Spaghetti with Ragù alla Bolognese

Spaghetti with Ragù alla Bolognese
Staff Writer
Bolognese
Jessica Nicosia-Nadler
Bolognese

This is the classic ragù of Bologna, the city where I was born and raised. It is also the ragù that coated the homemade tagliatelle my mother would make on Sundays. This ragù, however, is also terrific over rigatoni, penne, and spaghetti.

Ingredients

  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1⁄3 cup onion, minced
  • 1⁄3 cup carrot, minced
  • 1⁄3 cup celery, minced
  • 2 ounces pancetta, minced
  • ½ pound ground veal
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 

Directions

Purée the tomatoes and their juices through a food mill or in a blender until smooth. Set aside.

Place 4 tablespoons of the butter in a wide-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the onion, carrot, and celery and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Add the pancetta, veal, pork, and beef. Raise the heat to high and stir until the meat has a golden color, about 8-10 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add the wine and cook, stirring until mostly evaporated, about 4-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring from time to time, until sauce has a medium-thick consistency, 1 ½-2 hours. Add the milk and simmer 10 minutes longer. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and turn off the heat.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water according to package directions.

Drain the pasta and place in a large warm serving bowl. Add the remaining butter, half of the ragù, and a small handful of the Parmigiano and quickly toss to combine. Serve at once with more sauce, if needed, and a little more cheese. 

Spaghetti Shopping Tip

Italian food is about simplicity and letting the ingredients shine. So make sure you get ingredients that are great quality and flavor. Farmers markets and specialty stores will have great produce and products. Just be sure to have some great olive oil.

Spaghetti Cooking Tip

Unlike other highly regarded cuisines, Italian cooking is usually simple to make with many dishes having only 4 to 8 ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation.

Spaghetti Wine Pairing

Cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, malbec, mourvèdre, Rhône blends, zinfandel, petite sirah, nero d'avola, primitivo, sangiovese, or carménère with meat- or tomato-based sauces; grenache or chardonnay with cream-based sauces; pinot gris/grigio, albariño, or other fresh white wines (for instance, soave, Italian sauvignon, or grillo) with seafood pasta; nebbiolo, dolcetto, or barbera with most non-seafood pasta.